Thursday, May 21, 2009

First Confirmed H1N1 Case in the Philippines Announced by DOH Secretary Duque from Switzerland


21 May 2009  11:27pm, Manila time, 15:32pm GMT

The inevitable has happened — speaking from Geneva, Switzerland, DOH Secretary Duque has announced the first confirmed H1N1 flu virus case in the Philippines involving a 10-year old girl who has returned from the United States on May 18.

Ces Oreña Drilon and Henry Omaga-Diaz has just reported on this major breaking news at ABS-CBN's Bandila just a few minutes ago.

I made a Google search and this Reuters report datelined 21 May 2008 14:50:57 GMT appears to be the only thing on the Internet about it as I write this blog post:

MANILA, May 21 (Reuters) - The Philippines has recorded its first case of the new H1N1 flu virus, a 10-year-old girl who had returned from a trip to the United States and Canada, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said on Thursday.

The Filipino girl returned on May 18 and was stopped at the airport when found to be suffering from a fever, sore throat and a cough, Duque told reporters. He said the girl was confirmed to be suffering from H1N1 on Wednesday but was recovering. (Reporting by Manny Mogato; Editing by Paul Tait)
I am presuming that this young girl has been given Tamiflu and it's a good thing she appears to be alright.

I remember Ces Oreña-Drilon saying that the child is not being named for reasons of privacy which is well and good.   

However, I believe that the Flight Number and Name of Airlines which brought this girl home from the United States (or Canada) should have been announced publicly so that those who were in it would know immediately about the situation and present themselves voluntarily or contact the nearest hospital or DOH office. That is the quickest way to "contact trace" these people. I believe it is a tactical error on the part of the DOH not to have done this. I guess we're losing valuable time and the opportunity to contain this may be slipping away.  

The longer this probably-contaminated batch of people are exposed to the local populace here, the greater the chances of the spread of local contamination in case these people already carry the H1N1 virus.

I hope I'm wrong but if the item below is an indication of our capabilities, then I believe this H1N1 flu virus might be catching us flat-footed.

At this time, 11:52pm, Manila time (15:52pm, GMT), this is the update we have at the new DOH website:

Update No. 17 - Influenza A(H1N1) Monitoring

May 21, 2009

As of May 21, the Department of Health has identified seven new cases under observation, five of whom were from NCR, one from Region 6 and one from Region 8. All cases had history of travel from Influenza A (H1N1) affected countries.  Four of the new cases’ laboratory test results for Influenza A (H1N1), together with three cases reported previously, are still pending. All other previous cases tested negative for Influenza A (H1N1). While the intensive laboratory testing procedures for individuals possibly infected with Influenza A (H1N1) is on-going, the DOH reiterates that influenza-like illness monitoring at the community level is also enhanced. This is to ensure that outbreaks of influenza are detected early and control measures are implemented immediately.

More on this when I return.

It's now 22 May 2009, 12:05am Manila time, 16:05pm, GMT and this is what the new DOH website is telling us (please click on the image to enlarge):

Please note that there is nothing in this official DOH update dated "May 21" (Thursday) which speaks of a confirmed H1N1 case. Why is that so when the Reuters report above says that "the girl was confirmed to be suffering from H1N1 on Wednesday ..."  which, of course, is May 20?

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